Applying a WASH Risk Assessment Tool in a Rural South African Setting to Identify Risks and Opportunities for Climate Resilient Communities

Thandi Kapwata, Zamantimande Kunene, Bianca Wernecke, Samantha Lange, Guy Howard, Anisha Nijhawan, Caradee Y. Wright*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change threatens the health and well-being of populations. We conducted a risk assessment of two climate-related variables (i.e., temperature and rainfall) and associated water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)-related exposures and vulnerabilities for people living in Mopani District, Limpopo province, South Africa. Primary and secondary data were applied in a qualitative and quantitative assessment to generate classifications of risk (i.e., low, medium, or high) for components of hazard/threat, human exposure, and human vulnerability. Climate-related threats were likely to impact human health due to the relatively high risk of waterborne diseases and WASH-associated pathogens. Vulnerabilities that increased the susceptibility of the population to these adverse outcomes included environmental, human, physical infrastructure, and political and institutional elements. People of low socio-economic status were found to be least likely to cope with changes in these hazards. By identifying and assessing the risk to sanitation services and water supply, evidence exists to inform actions of government and WASH sector partners. This evidence should also be used to guide disaster risk reduction, and climate change and human health adaptation planning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2664
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: No funding was provided for this research. T.K., Z.K., B.W. and C.Y.W. receive research funding from the South African Medical Research Council and the National Research Foundation. The A.P.C. was funded by the South African Medical Research Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Structured keywords

  • Water and Environmental Engineering


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